Frank's Weekend Faves, Nov. 12, 2017

Frank's Weekend Faves, Nov. 12, 2017

Who's your favorite homegrown rock band?

No contest. It has to be REO Speedwagon.

The boys from Champaign (well, a couple of them still are, anyway) will be performing in East Central Illinois on Thursday at the Effingham Performance Center, about 80 minutes south of C-U off Interstate 57. Tickets start at $60, making this the best — and also the priciest — area rock show of the week.

But if you can't make it, don't sweat it. REO will be playing a lot closer to home in a few months. Tickets are still on sale (but going fast and not any cheaper) for these hometown guitar heroes' Feb. 8 show at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign.

I've had the pleasure of seeing REO "live" at least a half-dozen times over the half-century (yeah, really!) that these guys have been rolling with the changes — most notably with my siblings and my future wife at the old Chicago Stadium on REO's Hi Infidelity tour on Feb. 11, 1981. We all agreed: The band's late-great, founding lead guitarist Gary Richrath was on fire that night. A fave forever.

Forty million album sales and a slew of gold and platinum records later, frontman Kevin Cronin, bassist Bruce Hall, keyboardist Neal Doughty, lead guitarist Dave Amato and drummer Bryan Hitt just keep pushin' on, still one of the best shows around, anywhere, any time.

What's your favorite local audience-participation event?

That would be the Baroque Artists of Champaign Urbana's annual Messiah Sing-Along.

Hey, you gotta love a concert that would actually encourage the likes of this voice to join in on Handel's famously sublime "Hallelujah Chorus." This locally popular holiday tradition, now in its 15th year, will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26, at First Baptist Church at Savoy, 1602 S. Prospect Ave., Savoy. BACH music director Joseph Baldwin, carrying on the tradition begun by BACH's retired founder and longtime personal fave Chester Alwes, conducts the ensemble's soloists and accompaniment, while the audience members serve as choir.

Bring your own score or borrow one at the door. Singers of all ages are welcome. The cost to attend is a free-will donation. Start limbering up those vocal chords now — haaaaallelujah!

Who's your favorite classical concert of the week?

You can't ask for better than Sinfonia da Camera's 'Simply Strings' on Friday in Krannert Center's Foellinger Great Hall.

Conductor-pianist Ian Hobson will be directing the ensemble in the program, which includes Bela Bartok's "Divertimento for String Orchestra," featuring Hungarian-born violist Csaba Erdelyi; Gordon Jacob's "Double Concerto for Clarinet and Trumpet," featuring J. David Harris and Ronald Romm on clarinet and trumpet, respectively; Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings;" and Antonin Dvorak's "Serenade for Strings in E Major."

Your ears — and your soul — will thank you.

What's your favorite area theater production this weekend?

That's a toughie, because there's a lot going on in area theaters just now.

As highlighted in On the Go, Lyric Theatre at Illinois' fairytale opera "Hansel and Gretel" wraps up its weekend run at 3 p.m. today in Krannert Center's Tryon Festival Theatre. Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing' is playing the first of two weekends at Parkland College's Harold and Jean Miner Theatre. The Celebration Company's "Small Mouth Sounds" is midway through its run at the Station Theatre. Paxton Market Street Theatre has just opened "Nuncrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Special," and Creative Dramatics Workshop is staging "Little Women" at the Homer Opera House. And that's not even counting the wealth of excellent productions hitting area high school stages as well.

But without having seen any of these myself, the theater production that most piques my interest this week is the Monticello Theatre Association's "Twelve Angry Women." The idea of re-imagining Reginald Rose's 1950s play "Twelve Angry Men" (immortalized in the 1957 movie, starring Henry Fonda) with an all-female cast sounds like a timely and fascinating twist on a classic courtroom drama. Remaining performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday with 2:30 p.m. matinees today and next Sunday at the Phoenix Theatre. For tickets, call 217-762-2679 or

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